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Lesser Centaury

Centaurium pulchellum

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Gentianaceae (Gentian)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
40 centimetres tall
Cliffs, fields, gardens, grassland, heathland, sand dunes, wasteland, woodland.

Pink, 5 petals
Similar looking to Common Centaury (Centaurium erythraea). The flowers are slightly more red (occasionally white), the petals are smaller and narrower. Lesser Centaury flowers are also longer stalked. Flowers are either solitary or appear together in pairs. 4 or 5 petals.
A two-sectioned seed capsule.
Pointed, oval leaves. Basal rosette. More slender and open than Common Centaury. Most common in Southern England. Absent from Scotland.
Other Names:
Branched Centaury, Branching Centaury, Pink Centaury, Small-flowered Centaury, Small-flowered Centuary.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Centaurium pulchellum, also known as small-flowered centaury or small-flowered centuary, is a species of flowering plant in the gentian family. It is native to Europe and Asia, and has been introduced to other parts of the world as a weed. The plant is known for its small, pink or white flowers and narrow leaves. It grows well in a variety of habitats, including fields, gardens, and waste areas. Centaurium pulchellum is a herbaceous plant that can grow up to 60 cm in height. It is commonly found in disturbed areas and is considered an invasive weed in some areas. The plant is used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments.


Lesser Centaury (Centaurium pulchellum), also known as Pink Centaury, is a species of flowering plant native to Europe and Asia. It is a herbaceous perennial that belongs to the gentian family and is known for its beautiful, delicate pink flowers that bloom from June to September.

This plant is usually found growing in damp meadows, pastures, and along streams and rivers. It grows to a height of 10-40 cm and has a creeping root system, which helps it to spread and form colonies. The leaves of the plant are narrow and lance-shaped, and are typically about 5 cm in length.

The flowers of the Lesser Centaury are the most striking feature of the plant, with each stem carrying several delicate blooms. The flowers are usually a light to deep pink color, and have five petals that are fused at the base. The flowers are attractive to many types of insects, including bees and butterflies, making the Lesser Centaury an important plant for pollinators.

Lesser Centaury has been used in traditional medicine for centuries. It has been used to treat a variety of ailments, including digestive problems, liver and kidney disorders, and skin conditions. The plant contains a number of compounds that are believed to have medicinal properties, including bitter compounds, tannins, and alkaloids.

Despite its medicinal properties, the Lesser Centaury is not widely cultivated, and is considered to be a rare plant in many parts of its native range. This is due in part to habitat loss and the fact that it is a slow-growing species. However, it is a hardy plant that is relatively easy to grow and can be a valuable addition to a wildflower garden or meadow.

Lesser Centaury is a beautiful and delicate flowering plant that is of great importance to pollinators and has a rich history of use in traditional medicine. Although it is not widely cultivated, it is a valuable plant that should be protected and preserved for future generations to enjoy.

In recent years, there has been growing interest in the potential health benefits of Lesser Centaury. Research has shown that the plant has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antispasmodic properties, which make it a promising candidate for use in the treatment of various health conditions.

One area of research that has received particular attention is the potential of Lesser Centaury for use in the treatment of digestive problems. The bitter compounds found in the plant have been shown to stimulate the digestive system and improve the absorption of nutrients, which can help to relieve symptoms of indigestion and constipation.

Additionally, Lesser Centaury has been shown to have potential in the treatment of liver and kidney disorders. The plant contains compounds that have been shown to support liver function and protect against liver damage, and research has also suggested that it may help to improve kidney function and reduce the risk of kidney disease.

In skin care, Lesser Centaury has been used in traditional medicine to treat skin conditions such as eczema and acne. The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of the plant make it a promising candidate for use in the treatment of skin conditions, and research is ongoing in this area.

It is important to note that while research has shown promising results for the potential health benefits of Lesser Centaury, more research is needed to fully understand its medicinal properties and determine the most effective ways to use it. As with any natural remedy, it is important to speak with a healthcare professional before using Lesser Centaury as a treatment for any health condition.

In conclusion, Lesser Centaury is a valuable and versatile plant with a rich history of use in traditional medicine. While more research is needed to fully understand its medicinal properties, the potential health benefits of the plant are promising and warrant further investigation. Whether grown in a garden or used in traditional medicine, Lesser Centaury is a fascinating and valuable plant that should be protected and preserved for future generations to enjoy.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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